Tom Hardy’s characters are dark and moody, but in reality he’s funny and personable. Here, the Hollywood actor tells us about his latest role as a father and why he’s fiercely committed to his London roots…
Words: Christopher Ritchie
Tom Hardy has carved himself a niche as an intense actor bringing characters to life that one might classify primarily as ‘dark’. From a dual role playing the legendary Kray brothers to the brutal Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, Hardy has a singularly committed approach.
Hardy’s own demons – he candidly admits to wrestling with alcohol addiction – have helped to shape his performances, and go some way towards accounting for his string of moody roles. However, in reality, Hardy is funny, personable, and fiercely intelligent.
‘I do have a weakness for the darker side of things, but I’m not dark at all in my own life. I love my family and my home life. I put my heart and soul into my work, but when it’s over I get back to my real world, my family.’
Having starred in a succession of acclaimed productions including award-magnets The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road, the 39-year-old has Hollywood at his feet. However, his TV work here in the UK, and the lure of London in particular, keeps him close to home.
In his latest labour of love, the atmospheric 1800s London-set period drama Taboo (which he co-created with his father Edward ‘Chips’ Hardy and writer Steven Knight), the East Sheen-raised actor says he ‘really liked the idea of returning to my roots’.
Comfortable in his own skin – ‘I’m never going to worry about being too big or famous to the point where I won’t go the corner shop and buy a pint of milk!’ – Hardy is first and foremost a family man, and an actor second. His wife, actress Charlotte Riley, and their 18-month-old son, are without question his priority.
‘Family is the biggest thing there is,’ he says. ‘I was self-indulgent for a long time and I was only thinking about myself and my own stupid stuff. Having a child lifts you out of selfish behaviour and gives you responsibility. It forces you to be a better man and to live a healthy life. I take great pride in being a father.’
My relationship with my father has changed radically. I have so much respect for him, and while when I was growing up I felt this need to rebel, we’ve grown closer as two men working together
Reconnecting with his own father some 14 years ago was a turning point, following a period where he admits to making mistakes, hanging around with the wrong kinds of people and searching for a father figure. Their relationship has evolved into an artistic collaboration.
‘My relationship with my father has changed radically,’ he says. ‘I have so much respect for him, and while when I was growing up I felt this need to rebel, we’ve grown closer as two men working together and as father and son. Having my own children was a major part of that.’
With Taboo’s second series on the way and a third mooted already, Hardy will find himself at home for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Hollywood refuses to let go. With a Mad Max follow-up announced, plus a turn as Marvel Comics’ Venom due next year and – one assumes – a whole lot more on the horizon, how long will he be able to resist the pull of a permanent move from his roots in south west London?
‘That is just completely out of the question,’ he says firmly. ‘My son lives here with his mother, and I need that contact with him. It’s so important to me. They grow and learn so fast at his age, so any time away from him is just criminal.’